8 October 2018




MADELEINE KING, MEMBER FOR BRAND: Good morning everyone, thanks for coming along. My name is Madeleine King, I’m the Federal Member for Brand and also the Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs; Assisting for Resources and Small Business.

It is my very great pleasure today to welcome Senator Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, and also Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate. Penny is a regular visitor to Western Australia as many of you will know and today was her second year in a row that she did a keynote address to the Perth USAsia Centre: In The Zone Conference, which we’ve been at this morning. So with that, thank you for coming Penny, welcome back and I will hand over to you.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Thanks very much, it’s fantastic to be here and as is usually the case, fabulous weather. I do enjoy coming to Perth and I can do it almost generally in a day, which my kids and partner like a lot. Anyway, I’m here with a group of wonderful Labor women, MPs, senators and candidates. We’ve got Madeleine, Anne, Hannah, Melita, Mellisa, Kim and Sue Lines – a mixture of Senators, MPs and hopefully MPs for the next election.

We’re very proud of the women we have in the Labor Party. We’re very proud of our current group of women. We’re very, very proud of our candidates and you see some fantastic candidates with me. We hope to be the first party in the nation’s history after the next election to have more than 50 per cent of women in our Federal Parliament. That will be an historic day, an historic occasion for Australia if we can achieve that, and the women standing beside me are amongst those who will ensure that happens.

Bill Shorten yesterday launched his Fair Go Action Plan and one of the things he said is that the women of Australia will be front and centre in that plan; and he means it. Tanya means it, I mean it and everyone standing here with me means it too. There are many things we can talk about when it comes to why we need to do more for Australian women. We could talk about the gender pay gap, we could talk about women’s superannuation where we see women in retirement on average with about $100,000 less than men. Unfortunately, the sad statistic of single women in their 60′s, about a third or less are living in poverty. So we have a lot to do.

What I’d say to you is this, it’s not just a matter of equality, it’s not just a matter of principle. It is that, but you know what else? It’s good for us all. This country does better when we can all do well. This country does better when everyone can fulfil their opportunities; when everyone can be their best self and when our daughters and our sons have the opportunities to be the best of who they are. That’s why Bill launched the plan and that’s why we’re so focussed on making sure Australian women get a better deal under a Shorten Labor Government.

JOURNALIST: Is it as much about presenting a front that you have a lot of women in Parliament or also highlighting the fact that the Liberals have very few women?

WONG: Well I actually like hanging out with these people (laughs), although Madeleine you know, she teases me a lot, so not always (laughs)…

JOURNALIST: But obviously there’s a big political win there for you isn’t there; because there’s no contest?

WONG: We’ve supported women into Parliament for many years and I was part of the group in the 90′s – I was a lot younger, probably a lot leaner and a lot less grey – who were part of the first affirmative action changes in the Labor Party, and you know why we did that? It wasn’t about partisan politics, it was about democracy and it was about changing the culture of our party. Now, we’ve come a long way since then and the women around us are a testament to that. But we’ve got a long way to go to make sure that we can have a situation in this country where women can fulfil their opportunities. We’ve got a lot more public policy to implement and that’s what a Shorten Labor Government would do.

But you’re right, pretty stark contrast isn’t it? We talk about the prospect of 50 per cent women after the next election and what are the Liberals? One out of five and rapidly losing women from the Parliament. I came from a conference where Julie Bishop walked in and I told her she’d done a great job, but she hasn’t been treated particularly well by her colleagues.

JOURNALIST: Can I get you on the United Nations IPCC. Are Labor’s policies consistent with limiting warming at 1.5C as the world agreed to do so?

WONG: Labor has an ambitious policy, but more important, we’ll go to the election and if elected we’ll have a plan to meet it.

Can I just pause on the IPCC report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That was released this morning and what that tells us is we’re on track to exceed 1.5C by 2040. So I’d ask all of you, how old will you be in 2040? How old will your kids be or your grandkids? And most importantly, what do you want for them? We can’t have climate action held back because Tony Abbott wants a fight or Malcolm Turnbull was too weak or Scott Morrison hasn’t got a policy. We can’t have no climate action because there are climate wars ongoing inside the Coalition. It’s time for us to act, it’s overdue and we need to do the right thing by the next generation.

JOURNALIST: Will the Labor Party phase out the use of coal for energy production in Australia?

WONG: That question was asked of me, I think a decade ago when I was Climate Minister, and I made the point I’m going to make now, which is you set targets, you set objectives, you make sure you have a policy which brings on renewables and emphasises clean energy. That’s how you make sure you transform the economy.

JOURNALIST: So in an ideal world though would you like it phased out by 2050?

WONG: I don’t think focusing on a particular industry is the right way to go. You’ve got to have the right policy settings and the problem for the government is they don’t have the right policy settings; actually they don’t have a policy setting at all.

JOURNALIST: One of the other issues that’s been on the agenda here in Western Australia is the GST.

WONG: I remember, I think I was standing here when you last asked me that question, although it was colder (laughs).

JOURNALIST: We poor West Australian journalists do have to cover this a lot, Senator. Heard your comments last week, as reported, obviously Labor’s pushing for ensuring a fair deal for every state. Obviously the party room hasn’t met yet but do you expect the party Caucus will come out with a position whereby the legislation will be supported regardless of if that amendment guarantee gets in?

WONG: Let’s remember the history of this. We called for a floor, Labor called for a floor, Premier McGowan called for a floor and Federal Labor backed a floor. Scott Morrison didn’t agree. He backed down. Labor called for legislation to put in place that floor. Scott Morrison didn’t agree. He backed down. You know what we’re saying now? We’re saying Scott Morrison should legislate his promise. He should keep his promise to Western Australia for the floor. He should keep his promise to all the states, all the states, for a guarantee that they won’t go backwards. It’s a pretty simple ask.

JOURNALIST: Given they’ve said though that they’re not going to, well they’ve indicated…

WONG: He has said that before and I’d make a couple of points. One is, as the Senate Leader I would say to you governments can say a lot of things but legislation has to get through the Senate. I think it’s a pretty reasonable proposition to say the Prime Minister of the day has to keep his promise.

The other point I’d make is a point about certainty. Western Australia wants certainty, that’s very reasonable and the best way to get certainty is to make sure all the states are on board and all the states can be on board if Scott Morrison keeps his promise.

JOURNALIST: Ben Wyatt says, the Treasurer here who’s part of the Labor team, that the guarantee is enough in the legislation; he’s happy with the legislation as it is. Is there a division there between state and federal Labor then?

WONG: I think there’s no division at all between federal and state Labor on the issue of a legislative floor for Western Australia. We just think it’s pretty reasonable to say the Prime Minister should keep his promises.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.